Jeremy Hunt admits that his ideas were concocted using nothing more than a ball of string, some empty cardboard boxes and an enormous bag of rats. He painstakingly built a model city in his garage to house thousands of mice and explains, ‘I set it up to study how different models of health care work under experimental conditions.
‘I was optimistic at first and thought I was building a mouse utopia – a Mousetopia, if you will – and things were good, really good. The mouse hospital worked well, that’s the upturned bucket you can see just over there, but the population doubled every fifteen days and it all went tits up. There weren’t enough appointments in general practice, all the mice went straight to A&E and it was a f*cking nightmare.
‘I then started tinkering around with things, I got the medic mice, they’re the ones wearing the little white coats, hooked on pressing levers and I constantly moved them around to make them work even harder. To my surprise the rats stuck at it, until some of them dropped dead after chewing off their own tails.
‘Then the overcrowding and lack of health and social care really kicked in, it lead to vandalism, graffiti and late night cheese raids, it was a f*cking disaster. What’s that?… A dead rat? Nah, it must be something else.’
One of the rats who survived the study squeaks: ‘I worked my furry arse off in that tin for over two years. We were put under relentless pressure and constant inspection and the only thing motivating us was the occasional reward peppered with frequent punishments. We were blamed for stuff we didn’t do, criticised for things we had done and all in the name of some cruel, cruel experiment. But what do I care? I’m f*cking off to Australia next week.’
Unfortunately the experiment had to be abandoned when the frustrated rats master-minded their own escape using a helicopter made out of elastic bands and a lollipop.
The Health Secretary concluded: ‘We think that the rat model when scaled up to the level of actual human beings will be just as awful, but on the bright side there will be fewer droppings to clear up.’
Dr Kevin Hinkley is a GP in Aberdeen